This past Sunday, I attended the 40th anniversary celebration of Tuck Everlasting with Natalie Babbitt. Gregory Maguire discussed Tuck and other aspects of the writing life with her, and there was even a writing exercise for the audience (I wish more children had participated).
Two things that really struck me during the conversation: Ms. Babbitt began her career as an illustrator, and the original cover for Tuck is her painting, AND the Tuck’s house and pond was real. Ms. Babbitt and her family owned the house and pond, summering there for several years. (And yes, there was a mouse who lived in a drawer, though they did not keep it. 🙂 ) Shortly after the Babbitts sold the house, it was struck by lightning and burned to the ground, which Ms. Babbitt felt was almost a way for it to be immortal, as were the Tucks.
The book is a meditation on mortality, among other things, and Ms. Babbitt said it was informed by her young daughter’s dream or sudden fear of dying one night. A very interesting event – and I did read the book before attending. (See last week’s post.)
As for new classics, my dear friend Rob Sanders has a new book coming out: Outer Space Bedtime Race! Enjoy the cute and clever trailer by illustrator Brian Won – and pick up a copy when you can. It’s sure to be a great read-aloud.
One final thought for the week: Scholastic came out with a wonderful report on What Kids Want with regard to reading and books. Kathy Temean posted the full graphic on her blog, and it’s great. But those of you seeking good reads for your kids might want to check out Scholastic’s own site, too. The report is very helpful – but my favorite way to find out what kids want to read is simple. Ask them. Have a conversation about the last book they enjoyed (or didn’t) and why. Engage them – you may well be surprised!